Do you need an eye test, or is it your computer screen?

Did you know that 13.4 million eye tests took place in 2019?

74% of people in the UK either wear corrective eyewear or have had laser eye surgery to help them see better.’

But, in a recent study  to find out why many were not having eye tests, the reasons given were:

My vision hasn’t changed – 31%

COVID – 19%

Too expensive – 18%

Not having the time – 13%

Eye tests UK
Survey results eye exam UK

 

COVID – I think we can all understand that one!

Cost – Another understandable one.

The price can be eyewatering. Without the glass, frames can be £80-£90 if not in the designer range. And that’s before the test, before the lenses and the upsells of scratch proofing, glare resistance etc.!

Probably not much change from £200 once it’s all added up?

Specsavers (we are not affiliated) have a great page with all the pricing and frames available so you can budget before you step instore.  (We have some advice regarding the cost later in the post).

Plus, a quick Google of cheap glasses brings up plenty of websites – however, caveat emptor! Buyer beware!

But back to you.

Are you experiencing changes or difficulty with your vision?

Are you noticing you can’t see the food on your plate so well, or your eyes are burning and sore at the end of the day?

If so, now is the time to channel your inner Sherlock and get on the case of:

 

Do you need an eye test, or do you need to mitigate against screen fatigue, also known as computer vision syndrome and computer eye strain?

 

And how can you tell the difference?

 

If you need an eye test, these are the general symptoms – and you will notice them most of the time:

  • Headaches when reading or looking at your computer screen.
  • Having trouble reading or seeing the computer screen or television
  • Getting double vision
  • Difficulty with colour discrimination
  • Difficulty when driving
  • Difficulty with glare
  • Difficulty with night vision
  • Mobility problems especially bumping into or tripping over objects, particularly those on one side.
  • Changes in your vision.

 

Now, here’s something you probably didn’t know regarding the cost:

“If you must spend some of your working days using a display screen (or are due to start using a screen), then you are entitled to an eye test paid for by your employer”. Unison

Yup – straight away, that’s roughly £25 you won’t have to fork out.

Then, if you do need glasses for your job – you might be eligible to have those paid for you as required PPE– again, Unison have the details:

“If an eye test shows that you need to wear glasses when using a visual display, then your employer is obliged to pay for your glasses.

Even if you need glasses for other work activities, your UNISON rep may be able to help you get financial support towards the cost of glasses.”

Not bad, eh?  Certainly, worth investigating.

 

 

Is it computer eye strain, computer vision syndrome or screen fatigue?

Sore eyes
Sore dry eyes due to computer eye strain

(Remember it’s all the same thing – it’s just so bad they named it three times)

 

Screen fatigue is the name given to a cluster of symptoms that arise from looking at a digital screen for prolonged periods.

The symptoms are generally:

  • Eyestrain
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches
  • Overall tiredness with reduced productivity
  • Blurred vision
  • Sore, stiff neck and shoulders
  • Struggling to see

There is a difference between needing an eye test and suffering from screen fatigue and you will need to decide, but generally, when requiring an eye examination for disease, the visual problems will be progressive and constant.

Bear in mind :

There is a difference is between age-related disease and induced repetitive stress injuries causing dis-ease and stress-related adaptations from visual suppression to asthenopia

With screen fatigue, if you give yourself a break for the screen and follow the tips we have laid out on the website, the risk of visual repetitive stress injuries and symptoms will be mitigated or significantly reduced. Often the symptoms will disappear while you are away from your screen, only to re-appear like an evil genie once you are back on.

And of course, we have some advice for this as well.

Having an individualised Display Screen Optimiser is another option to consider.

The ‘optimiser’ creates the optimal coloured background for your digital display screen. It’s 100% geared towards your needs. It reduces screen fatigue/ computer eye strain/ computer vision syndrome (Why can’t there be one name for it??) and increase productivity.

Well, it would, because suddenly you’re not hampered with the symptoms mentioned above.

Plus, spending £1 on the individualised optimiser is an excellent investment for your eyesight.

 

We would strongly suggest that you look after your eyesight, have regular check-ups with an optician, and use the tips and Display Screen Optimiser.

This way, you will reduce the harms of working all day on a screen, and perhaps when you go along for your wellbeing eye test, you won’t need a new prescription?

 

 

Tired of productivity hacks that don’t work? Try this instead.

Only this isn’t really a ‘hack’.  it’s probably more a preventative, a screen enhancement that behaves like a hack, because after a 15-minute screen reading/scanning test, a download of some software, the hack is installed and up goes your productivity.

Sometimes by as much as 20%.

58% of display screen equipment operators, on average, recover a day a week of productivity.

This hack doesn’t rely upon shortcuts, self-discipline, motivational speeches – nope, the ‘hack’ does it all for you.

Plus this hack is one way of managing your energy, and not your time.

 

But first, what is productivity?

Is it a formula?

Certainly, many have been written and trashed.

Is it input/output?

Possibly, but the best description we can find, one that doesn’t make us feel like a cog in a machine comes from James Clear, author of atomic habits. He writes –  Productivity is getting important things done consistently.

A goal many of us aspire to.

 

So, what are we talking about? And isn’t a 20% increase a tad optimistic?

According to the science no, but this is why we have written ‘up to’ and ‘average’, because we are all different and have our own quirks, and that’s important to bear in mind.

Plus, not all screens are the same.

 

Still curious about the hack?

It’s simply finding the best/ optimal colour contrast, for text, for you.

A unique, individualised coloured background for your laptop/pc/tablet.

 

We know it doesn’t sound like much – a change in the background colour, and whoop! Up goes your productivity, but colours and sound waves have an impact on our brain, emotions and psychology.

Why else do designers agonise over the colour of branding? Because colour impacts us on many levels.

Having the correct coloured background for you, quietly working away while you pound the keyboard or surf the net, impacts you in ways we are only just starting to understand.

 

We are humans living in the 21st Century, yet our bodies are still designed to be hunter-gatherers out on the tundra.  Our eyes are made for scanning the horizon, often. They are for looking at our hands as they make flint tools – basket weaving, catching fish – whatever it was that stone age people did. That’s where our eyes are still languishing.

Shoving them in front of a screen for hours at a time, day after day was not in the design brief. Staring at a screen means looking at and importantly focusing and refocusing, repeatedly – at sharp colour contrast, black text on white background, garish neon, flashing images, vertical and horizontal stripes.

Nothing like scanning the horizon of the tundra.

 

Did you know that text is created from a string of stripes?

M N H I W – as an example.

Sir Ken Robinson beautifully explains it in this video. It’s a TED talk, so not long and well worth a watch.

 

Our eyes are magnificently rising to the challenge when it comes to screen use, but it’s exhausting for them as they constantly have to refocus. You look at the screen and all that’s on there, then back down to the keyboard, then back to the screen – for hours – or you’re scrolling.  Just think how hard that is on your eyes? This is why many of us now know the intimate symptoms of screen fatigue, computer vision syndrome, or computer eye strain.

We know what screen fatigue feels like – the burning, dry eyes, the headaches, the blurred vision…

 

Here’s a quick 4-minute video that explains more about screen fatigue and how it affects your eyes and eyesight.

 

So, what does the correct coloured background do?

It calms the eyes and the excitation that all the sharp contrast cause in your brain.  It’s the excitation and the constant refocusing that tires us out.

There’s a reason they named the tiredness and aching you feel after being on a screen all day screen fatigue – It’s because of the effect the screen has on you!

We wrote another post about why your screen should come with a safety warning – check it out if health and safety and looking after yourself is important to you.

You can also read more about the science in our White Paper.

Essentially having the correct coloured background calms the brain and makes it easier for the eyes to focus and refocus while you are working on screen.

 

If you really want to have a higher chance of that productivity hack working, then try the Display Screen Optimiser.

Why this one? Because of several things:

  • It provides more than a generic choice of 10-12 colours.
  • It’s objective – it doesn’t care if you hate/love orange – what it cares about is making it much easier on your eyes to read and work online – and if that means orange is your colour – then orange is your colour.
  • It’s a simple theme that can be downloaded and easily uninstalled if you don’t get on with it.
  • There is customer service and tech support – (you don’t get that with a chrome extension!)

 

If your eyes don’t get as tired, it means you don’t get as tired, which means you make better decisions, think clearer, and are more productive as a result.

Fatigue is slowly killing us – but thankfully we are waking up to this fact. You don’t have to make your eyes tired; you can mitigate this.

Dare we say this could even be part of your business strategy?  By having the individualised colour across all your devices, for all of your staff, (if you have staff) you can continue moving forwards, safe in the knowledge that not only are you reducing the risks of screen fatigue – you’re also increasing your productivity.

 

 

 

 

 

Why your digital display screen should come with a safety warning.

The current understanding is that screen fatigue/computer vision syndrome is temporary. You give your eyes a rest, pop in a few drops, they recover, you carry on.

However, we know millions throughout the ages have ruined their eyesight due to what we call ‘working with the near and close up’, which can be interpreted as reading a book, writing, or working on a digital display screen, hour after hour, day after day.

Dante, the Italian poet, writer and philosopher, who lived from 1256 to 1321 suffered from Myopia (short-sightedness), which he put down to working with the near and close up.

Probably in a dark room lit by candlelight.

Well, too much brightness we believe can do the same damage, and we are also of the opinion that screen fatigue will have an accumulative effect, much like the near and close up work, and could result in worsening eyesight.

(We have a White Paper all about this )

We firmly believe that digital display screens should come with a product warning for your eyesight.

A quick Google search for safety requirements for digital screens comes back, rather interestingly, with a list of articles about digital signage… with titles such as – How can digital signage improve Health and Safety in the workplace?

Not what we were looking for.

So, another search term and another try, and we hit the Health and Safety blurb, this time about laptops and as they have digital screens, we took a look.

And yes, here we go –Unison, a UK Union have created documentation for safe laptop use:

They found:

  • 89% of those who suffered headaches also suffered eyestrain
  • 81% of those who suffered back pain also suffered eyestrain
  • 80% of those who suffered back pain also suffered headaches
  • 79% of those who suffered back pain also suffered neck pain
  • 69% of those who suffered back pain also suffered pain in arms and hands.

Working with a digital display screen is not too healthy it would seem.

The hazards are discussed, there is advice against theft and violence, plenty about work-related stress, with a  checklist.  Tucked in there is this:

“Are users provided with eye tests and glasses where needed? This is important because of working directives: The law says employers must arrange an eye test for display screen equipment (DSE) users if they ask for one and provide glasses if an employee needs them only for DSE use.”

A tacit admission that DSE work is hard on the eyes?

The Health and Safety Executive UK  state :

DSE work does not cause permanent damage to the eyes. But long spells of DSE work can lead to:

  • tired eyes
  • discomfort
  • temporary short-sightedness
  • headaches

Yet we know overworking muscles can lead to long term and persistent damage. RSI of the wrists/carpal tunnel syndrome is a case in point.

We can find nothing about adjusting the laptop for the individuals eyes apart from the odd blog post. And this is something that drives us a little bit insane, because it is one of the easiest and efficient things to do when it comes to eye care, and everyone should know that they need to do it.

We suggest this is actually a safety issue.

Product safety “is the ability of a product to be safe for intended use, as determined when evaluated against a set of established rules.

“The legislation sets out clear test and documentary requirements that manufacturers and distributors placing equipment on the European market, must follow to demonstrate that their products meet defined safety criteria and are safe for the intended use. “

How does this relate to the laptop/digital display screen user?

If you use a digital device and you are NOT made aware of the possible harms that could arise from long term use, this will become a problem for you, your employer and the manufacturer. But the onus will probably land on you.

Admittedly this is a grey area.  In the USA where suing is the ‘thing,’ there are now thousands of court cases against websites for not being accessible enough. Employees are taking employers to court for lack of care in this area because they are noticing the harms of working long hours with DSE.

Post-COVID digital eye strain is becoming a genuine issue.

Next stop – Microsoft and their product safety warnings online.

And  almost at the bottom of a very long page is this:

“Good binocular vision is required to view stereoscopic 3D content. Consider consulting an eye doctor if you are not able to view the 3D effect clearly and comfortably. HoloLens can be worn over most glasses and used with contact lenses. If you have a pre-existing vision disorder, please consult a doctor before using HoloLens. A small percentage of people have a pre-existing vision disorder that may be aggravated when using HoloLens.”

However, HoloLens are mixed reality smartglasses – so not screens then.

Nothing about computer vision syndrome/screen fatigue that we can find in the safety literature.

If you can find it, please do let us know, as we would be delighted to see it.  

We have found nothing in the safety requirements about adjusting the brightness of the screen, nothing about taking breaks, nothing about looking after your vision when working/using a digital display screen.

Should this advice be included?

Knowing what we know now, we believe very much that it should.

It should be one of the first things that you do when you get a new phone, tablet, laptop or PC. You go in and adjust the screen and settings to accommodate your eyesight because if you don’t, you could be open to harm.

Regulations set out to try and mitigate the harms of screen fatigue/computer vision syndrome, but how many know about them?

Compliance with WCAG, particularly ISO 30071.1 DSE Accessibility Regulations, Colour Contrast Validation & Calibration respectively, is required as a reasonable adjustment to prevent and/or mitigate to some degree, the highly predictable risk of Computer Vision Syndrome and/or Screen Fatigue, that results in “visual repetitive stress injuries” (WHO ICD-10), as a direct result of DSE operators under pressure to carry on regardless, which can and does result in presenteeism.

Our founder, Nigel Dupree has said, regarding this very issue:

“So, unless I am clearly deluded, this is a predictable and known “DSE Product Safety issue” and, expediently ignoring occupational health regulations and omitting to be compliant with enabling employees to make reasonable adjustments is negligence.”

There is little to nothing about eyesight care in the safety instructions that we can find. Plenty about overheating, locking it away and musculoskeletal issues – but hardly anything about eyesight.

Yet it is our eyes that do the majority of the work when using a digital display screen.

Here’s what you need to do:

Adjust the screen brightness.

Change the size of the font.

Modify the browser setting so that you can read websites with ease.

Use our colour contrast validation tool that optimises your screen and decreases the excitation in your brain, and thereby helps to restore good binocular vision.

We give a very detailed explanation about this in our White Paper – here’s a brief excerpt:

Binocular Vision disorders arise when the eyes target and focus on different places, the brain is then left to process or interpret conflicting images. If it is unable to fuse them together as a single stereoscopic image when faced with these two separate images, the brain compensates by suppressing one image, fully or partially. This is known as suppression or binocular rivalry driving monocular adaptation.

When reading, these issues present as word displacement, reversal of letters and words, shadowing in the spaces between words, or just alphabet soup.

Binocular vision(BV) disorder can be a condition present from birth but can also be caused by injury or trauma to the head, brain damage or stroke and is also well documented as being caused by headaches, anxiety, and other stressors.

Issues related to BV disorder, as with myopia, are amblyopia and strabismus: all are caused by muscle fatigue, an imbalance between eye muscles, or weakness and potential habitual eye-turns designed to reduce the stress of sustaining 3D vision.

Basically, our eyes are not meant to look at screens that are full of stripes, vertical and horizontal lines, harsh colour contrast and flashing images. These excite, possibly too much the areas of the brain to do with vision.

Research has shown that having an individualised colour contrast background soothes the excitation, is easier on the eyes and makes the entire experience of working with a digital screen more pleasant.  People find it easier to read and presenteeism is reduced or banished.

Taking the steps outlined above will reduce your risks of computer vision syndrome and will save your eyesight as time marches on.

We believe all digital display screens should arrive, as standard with a manual on how to mitigate the effects of computer vision syndrome and have an individual colour contrast option as standard.

Do you have screen envy?

(And no, we are not talking artfully crafted zoom backgrounds or the latest, coolest green screen design, we are talking about something else, entirely.)

Years ago, I spent many hours training our outreach “Colour Therapy Practitioners” to administrate Digital Literacy Sessions.

 

This consisted of first popping the trainees on the binocular eye-trace kit, and using them(selves) as guinea pigs, they pretty quickly realised how much effort is required from their eyes / visual system to sustain, complete, or repeat the sequential, serial, fixations and saccades – essentially focussing and refocusing  –  necessary to read fluently.

 

It was experiential learning at its best.

 

Then, not only did I have converts in terms of the learned experience of what it feels like to have easier relatively stress-free access to text but, engaged learners for the remainder of the course who were far from indifferent to the outcomes and impact they potentially had on their clients.

 

That was in the early days, long before developing the technology and knowing how and/or who was competent and experienced enough to create an AI driven, online version, mirroring our practitioner lead administered Dupree ‘Display Screen Optimiser’ (DSO).

 

When I was contracted to work with a company, I was always surprised by the number of individuals participating who were convinced that they didn’t suffer vision stress or eye strain. They were adamant they were fine and were only taking part because well – take your pick, the boss said they had to, they wanted a cream bun and time away from the desk, safe from discovering anything new, or, they were open-minded, while still firmly believing they didn’t have a problem, and this really didn’t apply to them.

 

And it never failed to astonish me how many physically and emotionally reacted to finding their ‘optimal colour values’ as a more accessible and less stressful contrast to the text.

These were people that believed they had no issues working on a display screen, they believed any discomfort they were experiencing was part and parcel of work, and so had never taken steps to rectify them.  As far as they were concerned, any discomfort was normal for display screen equipment operators. They were unaware that they were self-harming.

 

This fact didn’t amaze me, it saddened me then, and still does to this day. This discomfort is often being dismissed as a temporary visual anomaly, and all will be well after a good night’s sleep.

 

So, you can imagine their surprise, as they took the test and went from not knowing how much stress they were actually under, to feeling their shoulders dropping and relaxing, their respiration and heart rates slowing, all coinciding with improved, measurable gains in accessibility or reading rate of the subject text on-screen, as we came closer and closer to their optimal colour.

 

This occurred so often, it soon became normal that post-session, over a cup of tea or as they were walking out the door, those involved would admit to not knowing how stressed they must have been and had experienced feeling butterflies in their stomach when we reached the optimal most visually comfortable colour value for them.

 

Their body knew before they did.

 

Even more surprising for them was that their optimal colour was often nowhere near their favourite colour. (Another reason why our DSO is objective.)

 

Then, of course, there were some adults who, at first presented as poor readers. Having discovered they could read fluently with the right colour contrast, they would then understandably become very angry and want to know why no one found this out when they were at school, convinced their life chances would have been significantly different had that been the case.

 

In this digital age,  which is now considered the ‘new normal’, we are so used to the conventions of dark text on a bright white background, flashing images and stark colour contrasts on websites that we naturally assume there must be something wrong with us.  If we find it visually uncomfortable, sustaining convergence and accommodation (focusing) while reading text on screen, why are we not asking is there something wrong with the screen?

This should be one of our first thoughts.

 

2021 is going to see an increase in digital use, in education and the workplace ( interesting that this Forbes article cites a safe workplace as the number 1 priority, and perhaps working from home should be included there?) But whatever the latest trends, online is very much here to stay, and this means you need to take care of your eyes.

 

Would you consider driving a new car or operating unfamiliar equipment without adapting it to your needs? Be those comfort, safety, or both. Yet nobody does this with out of the box display screen equipment, so they carry on regardless of any discomfort and then wonder why they are fatigued, depressed and have sore eyes at the end of the day.

 

Our eyes have not evolved to stare at unnatural screens all day.  They evolved for our survival in nature. For muted colours, soft lines, not harsh vertical or horizontal stripes but distant horizons and watching our hands work.

 

Out of the box digital devices need reasonable adjustments from the generic settings, and they need to be adjusted to you – you that is the unique individual reading this post.

 

You will have an optimally synchronous colour contrast that minimises vision stress for your eyes, that also reduces the associated risk of physical stress, related to the ergonomics of your working environment.

 

If you are curious about your optimal colour contrast, you can find it using the DSO – (we only charge £1 to help cover admin costs – and one doubts you could find a decent cuppa or java for that price.)

 

Due to the emotional and physical reactions I’ve observed, for our next stage of research and development, as a therapeutic tool, we are working toward including remote Biometrics Screening in combination with Binocular Eye-Tracking. At present, we are having to depend on body-worn sensors for biometrics but, we hope to achieve remote status in due course.

But here’s the ask from us and why we are only charging the price of a cheap coffee for a product that will change your life.

Your assistance with the collection of interactive anonymised data, will be highly appreciated as this data will not only be used in Proof of Concept, but will go toward getting a head start with “machine-learning”.

We won’t be selling your data to the highest bidder; we will be using it to help people read better on screen.

Would you agree to be the subject of screen envy?

 Would like to boast that your colour contrast background is unique to you, that it’s helping you mitigate the risks of screen fatigue/ computer eye strain/ computer vision syndrome (one wonders what they will call it next), and it’s helping your reading rate and giving you a wee boost in productivity – (around the 20% mark, which is not to be scoffed at).

 

Will you help us to help you, to help others?

 If it’s a yes –   Please try the DSO, then rate and share your personal experience of the DSO, that also cunningly complies with ISO 30071.1, DSE Colour Contrast Calibration –  optimising your screen ergonomics for accessibility and, mitigating the degree of risk linked to vision stress, eye-strain and visual repetitive stress injuries presenting in vision suppression, myopic or asthenopic adaptations.

We look forward to reading your reviews!

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 Quick and easy steps to prevent computer eye strain.

 

 

  • Blink more often!

Yes, you need to consciously think about blinking when you’re working with a digital display screen. Why? Because studies are showing we blink 50% less than we should when online, which means our eyes become drier, and dare we say it – a little grungier than they should? No one is really sure why we blink less, some put it down to intense concentration, but more research is definitely required in this area.

 

  • Adjust the light.

You should not have any light (artificial or sunlight) reflecting off your screen, because it will make it harder for your eyes to focus. Plus, if you are in a really bright environment, you may be screwing up your eyes, which increases muscle usage, which tires them out quicker. Overuse of the eye muscles is the main cause of computer eye strain.

 

  • Take breaks.

The culture of busy, busy, busy! well and truly needs to go, if only for the sake of your eyes. Give them a break, get away from the screen. (We sound like your Mother, we know – but mother knows best!)

 

  • Limit screen time

Still firmly sounding as if in parenting mode, but limit the time. Get off the screen/phone/laptop and give your eyes and your body a break. When looking at a screen, your eyes are constantly having to refocus due to colour contrast, moving images, pop-ups, and so on. Our eyes were not designed for this, so like any workout – you need to include the rest time.

 

  • Fresh air and natural surroundings.

Being in nature is an absolute balm for your eyes. They have evolved to be in nature – to scan the horizon for grizzly bears or a yummy buffalo to eat, to look down at the fire, pick up the flint – you get the idea. We have not evolved to look at screens all day – well not yet anyway.

 

  • Glasses

Do you need them? When was the last time you had your eyes checked? You may need a visit to the optician, and glasses are sexy.

 

  • Check the brightness of your screen

    Many of us are unaware that the factory settings on the pc/laptop/phone are not always optimal for you. Yes, this is an individual thing, so have a play – dim the screen and see if it helps – if not, brighten it a tad. You can always do the White Paper trick.

 

  • Position your screen

Place it an arm’s length away from you and have it about 10-15 degrees below your eye line – this has been found to be the optimal position ergonomically.

 

 

  • Supplements?

Why not – Omega 3 and Bilberry are said to help and here’s why –The Omega 3 helps to slow down the ageing of the retina, while the Bilberry is said to reduce retinal inflammation. There’s a really lovely story about Bilberry Jam and night flights by the RAF in WW2, but that’s for another time!

 

  • Adjust the screen settings

Do you need to increase the font size of the text? Do you need to adjust the browser settings because you are squinting to read? Don’t be shy, increase the font size if you need to.

 

  • Wear contacts?

Show your eyes some love and wear glasses a few days a week.

 

  • Pimp up your screen

With a customised colour contrast background – yes, this works, it’s not just for those with dyslexia, it’s for all of us. We each have a unique colour palette that our eyes love, and having this as your background colour, to contrast against images and text helps with reading/watching and soothes your eyes. It might even be a colour you don’t instinctively like, but it will be much easier on your eyes than the regular black and white contrast that comes as standard.

 

  • Put paper documents alongside the screen.

Don’t have them down in front of you – get one of those cookbook stands, and have the paper alongside the screen.  Reducing looking up and down will reduce the effort of refocusing your eyes.

 

  • Do the 20-20-20 Cha Cha Cha.

Look away after 20 minutes, at something that’s 20 feet away (6 meters) for at least 20 seconds.

 

Zoom fatigue – what is it, and is it the same as Screen fatigue?

Zoom fatigue is NOT screen fatigue but adjusting for zoom fatigue will help with screen fatigue.

Yes, we are now fighting digital eye strain on several fronts, but zoom fatigue is more to do with how anxiety-inducing watching other’s faces can be.

Stanford University conducted a  study and found 4 things that they believe are the causes of zoom fatigue.  In the article, they give solutions as to what you can do about it, but essentially it boils down to – turn off your camera.

Zoom meetings cause you to be close up to someone’s face, often many faces in a confined space, which is not natural.

The only time you would do this in ‘real life’ would be in a rugby scrum, a group hug, or hiding in a fort with your friends.

It’s this close up, zoomed-in images of faces they feel triggers the anxiety of public speaking, alongside … wait for it …triggering primal instincts of fighting or mating because the zoom call is that intense for our reptilian brains.

Top tip no 1 then is to reduce the size of the faces, and not be on speaker view. Instead switch to gallery mode if there are more than a couple of participants.

 

Reflection
Seeing your own reflection

 

Seeing yourself on zoom is unsettling, (let’s face it, zoom is not flattering) and this increase our negative self-talk, which increases our anxiety.

How many of you have been unnerved at your appearance on zoom, because that’s not how you looked in the mirror 5 minutes ago?

The solution is to right-click on your image once you are on the call and hide the self-view.

Try it, it’s very relaxing and only takes a few minutes to get used to.

 

Next point: We move a fair amount when we are chatting face to face, we gesticulate, and we look away a lot more.

When on zoom we continuously look at the faces, we don’t look away, and this is unnatural, plus, it increases cognitive load, which means your brain has to work harder, it burns more calories and you become tired quicker.

The solution is to either have an audio call only or turn the camera off every now and then.

One writer suggests having the camera further away from you, so you can look at things on your desk and doodle – exactly the same way we do in a face-to-face group meeting.

The cognitive load increases on zoom because the non-verbal’s are not as obvious.
Non-verbal’s, according to verywellmind.com include facial expressions, gestures, paralinguistics such as loudness or tone of voice, body language, personal space, eye gaze, touch, appearance, and artefacts.

Nonverbal communication amounts to between 70-93% of communication.

When we are online, over zoom or another video conferencing app, we have to exaggerate our nonverbal communication, which makes the brain and body work harder, so the solution here is… you guessed it – have an audio call only.

Turn the camera off.

What about the introverts? Are they loving this?

Nope. They are screaming internally and are becoming well and truly frazzled, but that’s another conversation that will involve exercise, mindfulness and yes, you guessed it – turning off the camera. (There is a link to an article for introverts at the end of this post)

 

So how does tackling zoom fatigue help with screen fatigue?

Turning the camera off allows you to look away from the screen – it allows your eyes to rest and relax. (Remember, screen fatigue is due to the eye muscles overworking.)

Screening for the risk of screen fatigue is as important as accepting the degree of stress associated with public speaking from your platform at home, as both are problematic when working online.

Being on zoom triggers anxiety. Screen fatigue also triggers anxiety, so this taking back control of your environment will allow you to reduce the anxiety.
Turning off the screen lets you move around, reducing the musculoskeletal issues we all get being glued to a screen, and finally, it allows you to stop pretending.

Screen fatigue and zoom fatigue both make you tired – hence the word fatigue. But when we are forced to stare at a screen for hours on end, with no decent break, our productivity drops, and we fall into what is called presenteeism – basically being at the desk pretending to work to avoid punishment, but we are not actually working.

In conclusion:

Zoom fatigue and screen fatigue are in the same ‘family’, as they both cause eyes strain and anxiety, but like siblings, they are not the same.

What is similar, is whether zooming or working on-screen, the display screen is just as close-up, requiring sustained convergence and accommodation ( focusing to you and me), but, with zoom, it’s larger objects to focus on, rather than the small text symbols that require serious visual stamina to continue making serial, sequential searches, fixations and saccads (again, more words that mean to focus and re-focus) when reading.

Turn the screen off.  Rest your eyes, and don’t forget our patented software can help reduce screen fatigue.

Having the optimised coloured background for your screen is not only soothing for your eyes, it means you won’t need to fake it as much, and you’ll be far less anxious.

 

Further Reading:
Nonverbal Overload: A Theoretical Argument for the Causes of Zoom Fatigue

How Zoom is Combating Zoom Fatigue

Zoom Fatigue Is Real — Especially For Introverts: 6 Ways To Recharge

Do screens really damage your eyes?

The short answer is yes.

But there are reasons behind this, and it doesn’t have to be yes if you understand how they damage your eyes, and what you can do to avoid that damage.

 

But first, let’s talk about blue light because it’s very relevant here.

Digital screens emit blue light.  According to UPMC, a medical health care agency in the USA, Digital devices release blue light, which can reach the inner lining of the back of your eye (retina). Studies show that blue light can damage light-sensitive cells in the retina. This can lead to early age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to loss of eyesight.”

Let’s unpack this.

White light/daylight is made up of all the colours of the rainbow, and this includes blue light. According to studies, blue light has shorter wavelengths than the other colours, and as a result more energy.  This means the blue light has a higher frequency, so it travels faster and is, according to Science Direct – absorbed better.

How this then translates to your eyes is that it hits the retina faster and quicker than the other colours, is absorbed better, and as a result, it may prematurely age the eyes –   which is macular degeneration. The symptoms of this are tired, dry eyes, which can be a precursor to eye damage.

But we then need to look at blue light in relationship to children.

Because children are not outside playing in the daylight as much as is optimal, they are actually lacking blue light, and as such, some screen time may be beneficial, but plenty more research needs to be done in this area.

What we do know is that whether an adult or a child, blue light can disrupt the circadian rhythm, and if used late at night – under the covers in bed, digitals screens can and do disrupt sleep patterns.

This leads us to ask – is blue light really the culprit here in screen fatigue and eye damage, or is it the close-up, prolonged viewing of sub-optimally calibrated, back-lit, bright white background to the text, causing eye-muscle fatigue, plus an inability to sustain convergence and accommodation ( focusing)  for prolonged periods of time?

 

Whichever is the case, eyes are not meant for prolonged hours and days looking at a screen.

 

Eyes are designed to scan the horizon and look at the work that you are doing with your hands, about 20 cm away from your face, plus have the full coloured spectrum of light evenly distributed, not one colour laser-focused.

Here’s another little-known fact, our brains and eyes are not even designed for reading!

“We’ve only been doing it as a species for 6000 years,” says Snow. “Our brains have not evolved to read. It’s a biologically unnatural thing to do.”

 

What does this mean for our eyes?

When you are looking at a screen your eyes are working very hard to do something they have not evolved to do, and they are fighting against unnatural light – be that the blue light or the generic out of the box bright white light.

Our eyes don’t blink as much as they should when looking at a screen. (We should be blinking every 15-20 per minute, but this is cut in half when looking at a screen.)  This means your eyes are not being hydrated, which increases dry eyes.

Then add flashing colours, moving images, strange colour contrasts, all fairly close up if on your phone/tablet/laptop, moving slightly further away if looking at a pc or TV.

This close-up smorgasbord of everything eyes are not meant to do or deal with, overworks them. They constantly need to refocus, zoom in and out, and like any muscle, work it too hard and it gets tired. Together this causes screen fatigue, which long term can damage your eyesight.

Here’s an analogy:

Think of Arnold Schwarzenegger in his heyday – 1974

Body Building
Arnold Schwarzenegger

Bodybuilders do ‘set reps’ – a set number of exercises, then they rest.  professional body builders work out from 1 to 4 hours a day, targeting different muscles.  1-4 hours, that’s it!  They don’t spend 8-10 hours a day training one set of muscles.

They don’t work the same set of muscles day in day out.

Now consider that the average person is looking at a screen for 13 hours a day, and you realise our eyes work out more than Arnie ever did!

The only times we allow our eyes to rest is when we sleep.

What happens if you overwork muscles?

They become damaged.

Our eyes need to rest. They need time away from the screen.

Research is showing that screen fatigue – the cluster of symptoms from looking too long at a screen are not temporary.

The damage can become permanent.

How many of you are noticing a rapid deterioration with your eyesight, the longer you work with a screen?

But we often don’t know about something until we start to experience symptoms.

If you are experiencing any of the following – tired eyes, dry eyes, blurred or double vision, headaches and or neck ache after looking at a screen, you need to take action.

We have a list of things you can do straight away to help mitigate the risks of screen fatigue, so do have a read, plus we have our colour contrast validation tool that can really help – sign up for it here. It only takes 15 minutes, and we are pretty confident you’ll notice an improvement.

Screens can damage your eyesight, but they don’t have to if you educate yourself and do things to mitigate the damage.

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Kids Reading

Remove the main fear, disadvantage, anxiety, barrier, handicap, disability to reading for leisure, pleasure and, worst of all, school/work on-screen or otherwise…

…Go to original article

Screenshot of ww2.kqed.org

Simple’ssss

Remove the main fear, disadvantage, anxiety, barrier, handicap, disability to reading for leisure, pleasure and, worst of all, school/work on-screen or otherwise……
If text is easily and fluently accessible, then anyone is happy to read ? Continue reading “Getting Kids Reading”

The Hourglass

Silly me, of course, it has to be this way around when peddling austerity as, for sure, they will want to make money out of running a nudge campaign when few employers are going to actively volunteer for a fundamental change of mind-set or ethos in their management or governance.

…Go to original article

Still as relevant as ever?

Silly me, of course, it has to be this way around when peddling austerity as, for sure, they will want to make money out of running a nudge campaign when few employers are going to actively volunteer for a fundamental change of mind-set or ethos in their management or governance.

…Go to original article

Maintaining the status quo regardless of accepting the under the line costs of poor performance, productivity, presenteeism and Occupational Health preferable to “change”. The old “hair-shirt” principle of ‘it doesn’t matter how uncomfortable it’s familiar’ and same old, same ole mediocrity.

I knew the Hour-Glass Economy was going to see a downward spiral in everyone’s quality of life though deskilling the masses but, didn’t imagine the route to change would take this path although, hitting them in their pockets maybe the only way shift entrenched management what what ?

Is eyesight affected by computers?

Quora Answer to: Does eyesight get affected through the PC? My mother says it was not inherited from her…

…Go to original article

Screenshot of www.quora.com

Quora Answer to: Does eyesight get affected through the PC? My mother says it was not inherited from her as she only got bad eyesight from after my birth. Is computer usage one of the problems?

…Go to original article

Binocular Vision

How do you know if you are “stereoblind”, someone without perception of depth?

Often there are tell-tale signs from lazy-eye to eye-turns, blurred or double vision for those experiencing eye-strain leading to stress related loss of 3D vision…

…Go to original article

Screenshot of www.quora.com

 

How do you know if you are “stereoblind”, someone without perception of depth?

Often there are tell-tale signs from lazy-eye to eye-turns, blurred or double vision for those experiencing eye-strain leading to stress related loss of 3D vision…

…Go to original article